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Online learning proposal draws fire

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 23/08/2016

A proposal to create online learning centres which can be run by private providers is being described as blatant privatisation and a threat to the Correspondence School.

The proposal is in an education update bill introduced to parliament by Education Minister Hekia Parata.

She says Communities of Online Learning (COOLs) will be open to as wide a range of potential providers as possible "to gain the greatest benefits" for young people.

"There will be a rigorous accreditation process alongside ongoing monitoring to ensure quality education is being provided," she said.

The Greens say COOLs will change the way education is delivered in New Zealand.

""They will threaten the existence of the Correspondence School Te Kura," said education spokeswoman Catherine Delahunty.

"Online charter schools that use public money for private profit don't provide the education students need."

The post-primary teachers association says COOLs are a disaster in the making.

"The minister of education's announcement that COOLs will be created to allow corporate entities to enter the education `market' is nothing but blatant privatisation," said PPTA president Angela Roberts.

"What this does is open up a market for any provider to get public funding to offer online education, in competition with public schools."

NZ First's education spokeswoman. Tracey Martin, says Ms Parata wants to start shifting students out of schools.

"She no doubt has private providers in mind for her new scheme," Ms Martin said.

"This will be a huge and tragic social experiment for our children ... we foresee students attempting to learn online in the hands of unqualified supervisors because the government believes `anyone can teach'.

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